Pilar is a major whitewater rafting destination in northern New Mexico. Located right on the Rio Grande where the river exits the Orilla Verde Valley, many rafters are pulling out of the water here and many others are putting in. For those who are just starting here, downstream is a great set of Class 4 & 5 rapids before you come to Velarde, which is the next logical stopping point.
An old Hispanic community that has attracted quite a few artists: there are several galleries scattered around town. Across State Highway 68 to the east is the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor’s Center with exhibits and explanations of what the Gorge is really all about.
Originally named “Cieneguilla,” for the swampy ground that exists in a small flood plain here in a bend of the Rio Grande. Because of that flat land next to a good supply of year-round water, this was long a favorite camping spot of the Jicarilla Apaches. In 1694, during his re-conquest of New Mexico after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Don Diego de Vargas attacked and burned a Jicarilla village here.
In February, 1793, 20 Hispanic settlers took possession of the property as given to them in the Cieneguilla Grant, a grant from Charles IV, King of Spain, through Don Fernando Chacon, the Spanish military governer of Nuevo Mexico.
At the time this video was shot the Rio’s normal emrald green water turned chocolate from heavy monsoon rain runoff.
The Rio Grande Gorge is a geological feature in northern New Mexico where the watercourse of the Rio Grande follows a tectonic chasm. Beginning near the Colorado border, the approximately 50-mile gorge runs from northwest to southwest of Taos, New Mexico, through the basalt flows of the Taos Plateau volcanic field.
In 1968, the Rio Grande was among the first eight rivers the US Congress designated into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to protect outstanding resources values. The Wild and Scenic River flows through the Rio Grande Gorge Recreation Area. The recreation areas include the Wild Rivers area in the north and the Orialla Verde area in the south, which provide hiking, boating, fishing and camping facilities.